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Sexual Orientation Discrimination In The Military

2237 words - 9 pages

In September 2011, the United States lifted the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy (DADT), which restricted gay, lesbian, and bisexuals from openly serving in the military. This was the first time in American history in which people of every sexual orientation could serve openly (“11 Facts About,” n.d.). This was a momentous occasion for some and not so much for others. For those military members that had served in secret and those members that were firmly against gays and lesbians, this repeal had different meaning. Both groups contained members that have served in the military for years and were products of the Former President Bill Clinton’s 1993 “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. For many soldiers of this era, communication issues arose due to a pre-existing mentality, learned rules and regulations in services reinforced for two decades and the general cultural within combat related fields.
Prior to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy the United States and its citizens were not very tolerant to openly gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals. Prior to World War II gays were not specifically targeted for exclusion from the military, although sodomy was considered a criminal offense as early as the Revolutionary War. However by the beginning of World War II, the military had shifted focus from excluding acts that were considered homosexual to focusing on members that were considered homosexual. In 1942, the military issued its first regulation that contained a paragraph defining the difference between a homosexual and a normal person. In fact, this regulation also described procedures for rejecting gay draftees. (Martinez, Hebl, & Law, 2012). The military based these procedures on medical rationale and psychiatric screening to determine sexual orientation became part of the induction process. Additionally, members that were determined to have homosexual desires were denied enlistment due to possessing a mental health issue.
This was the beginning of almost 50 years of communication barriers due to segregation and prejudice based on sexual orientation in the military. As World War II raged on and shortages in personnel fell screening procedures loosened and allowed for less focus on sexual orientation. But soon afterwards as the military returned to post war numbers sexual orientation policies were reinforced. By 1981 the United States receives its first Department of Defense policy, DOD Directive 1332.14, January 28, 1982, Part 1, Section H, stating that homosexuality is incompatible with military service. According to a 1992 report by the Government Accounting Office (GAO), nearly 17,000 men and women were discharged under the category of homosexuality in the 1980s. (Burke, 2011) This policy made it very clear to the American people where the United States stood in regards to equal rights based on sexual orientation. In particular those citizens that joined the military after 1981 were trained to believe that homosexuality and military did...

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